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Website analytics code inserts a div with backlink. Is this a hidden link?

     

crobb305

4:28 pm on May 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Using Chrome, I inspect the elements on page, and discovered:

<div><a href="http://www.example.com"><img src="http://www.example.com/cgi-bin/connect.cgi?usr=(some details about the page) border="0" height="1" width="1" alt="stats"></a> <script section> <noscript section>


What concerns me is the initial link immediately following the <div>. The img src link is in the <noscript> so I am not worried about it. I have limited understanding of javascript, but I am curious if this is a hidden link to my analytics service. With the discussion of footer/hidden links (WP themes and such), this has me worried. Most of my sites that use this tracking service were hit by Penguin. How is that <div> being generated? How can I stop it? If it's a real threat, I could remove the code and use a different tracking method, including my raw logs, but this is just the way I've always done it.

[edited by: Andy_Langton at 7:50 pm (utc) on May 15, 2012]
[edit reason] Removed specific service reference from code [/edit]

Andy Langton

7:54 pm on May 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member andy_langton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



This is an interesting one, as almost every many analytics services use a "fallback" image to try to track users with javascript disabled.

And many of them abuse noscript sections to put keyword-friendly links. Wouldn't be at all surprised if Google cracked down on that aspect, at least.

The link doesn't help you, and is unnecessary for the functioning of the code. And indeed, is invisible to all but those users with Javascript turned off. I would say that if the service displays a "credit" with javascript enabled, then it's reasonable to replicate that with noscript. But if the service is invisible unless javascript is disabled, then I can't see any other way of looking at it than it's a hidden link purely for search benefit.

Now, you have an agreement with whichever service you use, so whether this link is part of that is up to them.

In terms of "threat level", I couldn't say anything specific as I haven't looked at any specific data about it. But I don't think stats services are high on the radar, and if anyone suffered as a result of this type of link, you'd hope that it would be the services themselves.

tictoc

11:53 pm on May 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Interesting I am having this problem as well with my analytics. I have thought for a long time that they are making me link to their site in the code. I tried to take the part out that links to them and it seems to go back in on .php and .asp pages.

lucy24

1:06 am on May 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



And indeed, is invisible to all but those users with Javascript turned off.

... and then only if they are eagle-eyed enough to notice a transparent gif measuring 1x1 pixel ;)

Took a quick detour to my own analytics program's equivalent. That one says simply

img src = "/trackername/trackername.php?idsite=1"

in the noscript section. But robots will see everything anyway; they're reading the code, not displaying the page.

And I would really, really like to think that g### recognizes the format of competing analytics programs' boilerplate and quietly ignores the whole package. (This may be a vain hope, considering how many well-known search engines have to be physically locked out of the analytics directory.)

crobb305

12:39 pm on May 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



... and then only if they are eagle-eyed enough to notice a transparent gif measuring 1x1 pixel ;)

At first I thought the bold portion of the link in front of the img src was a separate link. I see now that the closing </a> isn't until after the pixel. That was what concerned me. You're right, surely Google won't penalize a tracking pixel, but they do seem to be taking a step in that direction (blocking phrases, etc).


<div><a href="http://www.example.com"><img src="http://www.example.com/cgi-bin/connect.cgi?usr=(some details about the page) border="0" height="1" width="1" alt="stats"></a>
<script>
<noscript>

crobb305

12:47 pm on May 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I emailed them, and the link that was being generated by the server has been removed, so all that remains is the tracking pixel in this format:

<div><img src="http://www.example.com/cgi-bin/connect.cgi?usr=(some details about the page) border="0" height="1" width="1" alt="stats"></a> </div>
<script>
<noscript>

I'm still not sure why the link appeared as it did other than to generate a link back. I feel like tracking pixels are ok, especially when noscripted, but the link format that I bolded in the last post may look suspicious.
 

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